The 5 Biggest Ecommerce News Stories of 2012

This year has been a whirlwind of news, trends and breaking stories for ecommerce. Take a walk down memory lane as we reflect on the top headlines of 2012.


There’s been no lack of ecommerce action over the past 12 months – with new technologies emerging and new consumer trends taking hold, it’s been a fluid, exciting time for our industry.

As we embark upon a bright and promising 2013, let’s reflect on the year by looking at 5 headlines that shook ecommerce in 2012.


Pinterest becomes the darling of social commerce

Move over, Facebook – Pinterest has taken the ecommerce world by storm.

Not only did the social media site experience quadruple-digit growth in unique visitors, a recent survey showed that Pinterest motivates far more online purchases than Facebook, and 66% of Pinterest users regularly follow and repin images and content from retailers. This growth caused droves of online retailers to create Pinterest business profiles, with even more installing Pinterest plug-ins that allow shoppers to instantly share products on the platform.


Google Penguin gives some ecommerce sites the cold shoulder

This April, Google released a major algorithm update, known as Google Penguin, which gave lots of ecommerce sites the bird.

In an effort to improve search results, Google targeted and penalized sites that: 1) engaged in link spamming, 2) had unnatural anchor text profiles and 3) were keyword stuffing. Sites that were most negatively impacted were those that acquired links from popular link networks and used black hat SEO tactics. Since Google Penguin’s release, the creation of valuable content has taken the forefront of many SEO strategies, and sites that do just that have reaped the related benefits.


Tablets take center stage for mobile commerce

iPads and other tablets have become a major player in how shoppers interact with ecommerce sites.

As more tablet devices penetrated the market in 2012, more customers used them to conduct product research and make purchases. In terms of ecommerce use, tablets outpaced smartphones in Q1 of this year, with tablets now expected to outship PCs by 2016. Recent surveys also suggest that while a majority of consumers use their smartphones for product research, shoppers are more likely to actually make a purchase from their tablet.

Naturally, this growth can be partially attributed to more affluent shoppers owning tablets (affluent shoppers also tend to make more online purchases), but as tablets continue their increase in popularity, expect a greater shift from desktops and laptops to these smaller, flatter machines.


State governments take action on internet sales tax legislation

While 2011 was filled with debate surrounding an internet sales tax, 2012 saw lots of action, particularly from individual states.

For example, Virginia signed their Tax Fairness bill into law, which requires out-of-state sellers with physical facilities in the state (like an Amazon distribution center) to collect sales tax on goods sold to Virginia residents. Similar legislation was also passed in California, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Tennessee. Furthermore, New Jersey required residents to pay sales tax on Amazon purchases, as did Texas, New York, Washington, and several others.

Although comprehensive online sales tax reform didn’t come into fruition this year, we’ll likely see the idea hit the Congressional table in 2013.


Black Friday, Cyber Monday shatter online sales records

Fewer customers braved the cold weather and long lines at retail stores in lieu of shopping from the convenience of their home, particularly on banner selling days.

comScore reports that Black Friday spending grew 28% compared to 2011, reaching $1.04B in sales. Even more impressive, Cyber Monday set the record for the heaviest online spending day in history, topping $1.46B in sales. For the entire season, ecommerce was a bright spot, as early reports indicate that growth in holiday retail spending was less than expected.


These stories have set the stage for quite an exciting 2013. Stay tuned for what’s to come.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Volusion


Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

2 Responses to “The 5 Biggest Ecommerce News Stories of 2012”

  1. Erika

    Thank you for this post. I found very informative, I would not have guessed that Tablets were more the way to go than smart phones and I am definitely going to look into the Pinterest v. Facebook because I do not have much success with FB.

  2. Mark

    Great post. Definitely the year’s top stories.


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